Slow cooker brown sugar garlic chicken is a 5-ingredient recipe with juicy and tender chicken in a rich and flavorful sweet and savory sauce. It’s an easy weeknight meal to throw together for a tasty, delicious dinner.
Today we’re making some slow cooker brown sugar garlic chicken which is a meal that’s so easy to throw together and will surprise you with its outstanding bold flavors. For such a simple, 5-ingredient recipe, this will give you amazing results with crispy chicken skins and lots of sauce.
A rub made from brown sugar and Italian dressing is massaged into the chicken and packed generously onto the chicken skins before slow cooking. The combination of fresh garlic, Italian dressing mix and brown sugar is the perfect blend of sweet and savory that brings out the best in juicy chicken thighs.
Your house will smell wonderful while this is cooking. Because it’s so easy, this crock pot recipe is great for no-fuss weeknight meals paired with some veggies and mashed potatoes or rice to soak up all that sauce. For more slow cooker chicken recipes, try some chicken and gravy, BBQ pulled chicken, shredded chicken tacos, chicken gnocchi soup, or this slow cooker buffalo chicken dip. In the meantime, let’s make some crock pot brown sugar garlic chicken!
Ingredients in Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Chicken
SLOW COOKER BROWN SUGAR CHICKEN RECIPE TIPS
- Slow cooker – For big meals like this, you need at least a 6 qt. slow cooker to fit everything in comfortably. I like using this model by Hamilton Beach because it’s one of the few modern slow cookers that doesn’t run too hot and where you can sear roasts directly in the insert.
- Chicken – I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs in this recipe. You can substitute this with chicken breasts both with or without bone or skin, just adjust the time accordingly since chicken breasts take less time to cook than thighs. I would also add some chicken broth to the slow cooker if you’re using boneless, skinless chicken breasts since they don’t render as much juice as chicken thighs.
- There is no need to add any liquid in this recipe as the chicken thighs will release a lot of liquid on their own while slow cooking. Look at the photos above to see a before and after of how much sauce you end up with.
- Garlic – 6 garlic cloves is roughly about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. This was the perfect amount of garlic for me, but you can cut it down to 4 garlic cloves if you want to tone it down a little. You can also substitute garlic cloves with garlic powder.
You can rub the chicken with the minced garlic before following up with the dry rub. I just used the dry rub on the chicken and added the garlic directly to the slow cooker instead, so you’ll see the garlic off to the side in the prep photo. Either way will work just fine.
- Brown sugar – I used dark brown sugar for this recipe. The molasses in the dark brown sugar adds a ton of flavor. You can also use light brown sugar, but the flavor won’t be as robust.
What’s the Difference Between Light and Dark Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is basically white sugar with the addition of molasses, which gives it that sticky, sandy texture. Dark brown sugar contains about twice as much molasses as light brown sugar. The main difference is in the taste, with dark brown sugar having a deeper, more robust flavor with notes of caramel. They can, however, be used interchangeably in a recipe if you only have one or the other.
- Italian dressing mix – For this recipe, I used a 0.7 oz. packet of Good Seasons Italian salad dressing. This seasoning replaces the need for salt in the recipe and balances out the brown sugar perfectly so you have a complimentary mix of sweet and savory flavors.
- Salt – As mentioned previously, you won’t need to add any salt to this recipe because the Italian dressing mix has more than enough sodium to flavor everything.
- Thickening the sauce – Chicken thighs or breasts with skin will render some liquid while cooking in the slow cooker which will dilute the sauce a little. Adding a cornstarch slurry at the end of the cooking time will thicken the sauce back up. Add in the slurry about 30 minutes before the chicken is finished cooking to have the sauce thicken in the slow cooker. To make a cornstarch slurry, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water and combine it into a paste. Add more as needed until you reach the consistency you want.
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch should give you a slightly thicker sauce. 2 teaspoons should give you a very sticky sauce.
- Crispy chicken skins – The chicken skins will brown in the slow cooker. It will look like the photos and no additional broiling was needed to get that level of crispy skins.
- Garnish – Add a pop of color with chopped parsley, or some bold crunch with sliced green onions. You can also garnish the chicken with some toasted sesame seeds before serving.
- Oven method – To make this in the oven, line a baking sheet with some foil and bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.
- Air fryer method – Preheat the air fryer to 400°F and air fry for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F.
- Leftovers – Store leftovers in the fridge and keep for up to 3-4 days.
- Freeze – Freeze for up to 3 months.
What to Serve with Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Chicken
Serve with some sour cream mashed potatoes, crispy smashed potatoes, or rice for some starch. Pair it with a side of veggies like garlic butter mushrooms, green beans, garlic Parmesan roasted broccoli, lemon pepper asparagus, or brussels sprouts to balance the meal out.
- Make it smoky – Add a little toasted sesame oil for a smoky flavor.
- Add some heat – Add a little kick with a few dashes of crushed red pepper.
- Add some veggies – Layer some veggies under the chicken like diced, baby gold or red potatoes, carrots, onions, or bell peppers.
And that’s about it. I hope you enjoy this simple, 5-ingredient recipe; I think the flavor will surprise you. Let me know how you liked it, what substitutions you made and what you paired it with in the comments below!
MORE SLOW COOKER RECIPES TO TRY
- Slow Cooker Chicken and Gravy
- Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos
- Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken
- Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos